Luxembourg-based telecoms company Altice Group, majority-owned by French businessman Patrick Drahi, is planning to acquire French telecoms operator Bouygues Telecom via its subsidiary Numericable-SFR. According to Le Figaro, which cites sources familiar with the matter, Altice has offered EUR10.1 billion (USD11.3 billion) in cash for the company. For its part, Bouygues said in a separate statement that its board would meet on Tuesday to discuss what it called Altice’s ‘unsolicited offer’, adding that no negotiations between the two sides were currently underway. However, the potential deal could face opposition in France, with the country’s economy minister Emmanuel Macron saying that the time was not right for consolidation in the telecoms sector and that the industry should focus on investment instead.
Meanwhile, following Altice’s confirmation of its offer to acquire Bouygues Telecom, Numericable-SFR has announced that it has entered into exclusive negotiations with Iliad Group ‘for the resale of a portfolio of assets in the context of this offer’. The resale process is subject to the negotiation of final agreements and the approval of Altice’s offer for Bouygues Telecom, the company said.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate in March 2014, Bouygues Telecom lost an intense bidding war for then-second largest telco SFR to domestic broadband operator Numericable and its parent Altice Group. Bouygues’ proposal comprised EUR10.5 billion in cash and 46% of the share capital of the new entity. Shortly after, Bouygues set a side-deal with smaller rival Free to sell portions of its network and wireless spectrum for around EUR1.8 billion, ‘conditional on the merger [between Bouygues Telecom and SFR] being completed’, thus effectively pre-empting possible regulatory hurdles for the acquisition of Vivendi’s telecoms unit that may come to the fore. Despite revising its bid on several occasions, the new lucrative offers failed to catch the eye of Vivendi, which entered into exclusive negotiations with Numericable/Altice Group in mid-March 2014. SFR and Numericable subsequently merged in November 2014, following the conditional approval of the country’s relevant authorities.